Every week T-Roc will share his thoughts on what is going on in college football, make picks and fire back at your nasty comments. What to learn more about him, check out his first post or visit his archive.
Week 1 of the college football season is one of the rare times oddsmakers mutter to themselves in dismay. Not only are they usually making spreads for schools with no shared history, but they’re doing so without the benefit of recent game action. Trends? They’re fucking AWOL, dude.
I’ve talked with a lot of Vegas and offshore oddsmakers and I’ve accepted that when it comes to betting college football, they’re all smarter than me. But while the guys who make the lines are sharper than Hattori Hanzo blades, Week 1 gives the bettor who does his homework a reasonable shot at a killing.
Remember Notre Dame opening at -3 against Georgia Tech last year? Yeah, so does every schmuck who pounded the Jackets into 1-point favourites by kickoff. The 33-3 final underlined how shitty the Irish O-line was as well as how out-of-whack opening-week lines can be (though it helped that most of North America’s Catholic population backs the Irish no matter who they’re playing…)
Here’s a half-dozen Week 1 picks, using numbers from Pinnaclesports.com as of Tuesday night. I dunno if there’s another ND/GT beauty in the bunch, but hopefully I’ll be reporting back for Week 2 on the profitable side of life.
Temple at Army, Friday, 7 p.m. ET: Temple -7
The Owls have a legit shot at being MAC daddies this year while Army isn’t showing much in the way of progress. Most bettors are aware of this, as reflected in oddsmakers’ early lines on this one (keeping in mind Temple travelled to West Point last year and lost by 16).
For starters, well, there’s the situation of starters - the Owls have almost all of theirs back, Army doesn’t. Further, the Black Knights’ special teams stars from last year’s game are gone and the replacements don’t look nearly as explosive.
Bowling Green at Pittsburgh, Saturday, noon ET: Over 56 points
This is a statement game for Pitt, a school that hasn’t posted a winning record since Dave Wannstedt arrived yet finds itself ranked in many preseason Top 25 polls. It’s the type of game where LeSean McCoy gets 30 carries and jumps into Heisman discussion early.
It’s also the type of game where Pitt’s more aggressive defence will cause points one way or the other - the Falcons have the talent to put up points, but the Panthers will attack Tyler Sheehan’s passes with eyes on the other end zone all game long.
Memphis at Mississippi, Saturday 7 p.m. ET: Under 55 points
There’s a height mismatch between the Memphis receivers and Ole Miss’ defensive backs, for sure… but that shouldn’t result in a plethora of red zone points, as I’m counting on the Tigers to struggle moving the ball in Oxford. On the other side, Rebels’ QB Jevan Snead is a talent, but where’s the star power around him?
Too high a total for a near-annual series that’s played over 55 just once in the past decade.
Louisiana-Monroe at Auburn, Saturday, 7 p.m. ET: Louisiana-Monroe +26 ½
Auburn is 13-0 all-time against the schools currently comprising the Sun Belt Conference and the Tigers beat the Warhawks 73-7 less than five years ago. I also picked Auburn to win the SEC West this year. But ULM’s win in Tuscaloosa last year illustrates the Sun Belt’s jump in quality in recent seasons.
Auburn’s slow start a year ago killed the Tigers’ conference hopes and this year’s start shouldn’t be gangbusters either, with a spread offense suddenly in place on the Plains. No massive upset here, but that’s a heapin’ helpin’ of points.
Michigan State at California, Saturday, 8 p.m.: California -4
Cal opened as 5 1/2-point faves and I love the way the line is moving. Folks keep pointing to the Bears’ departed explosiveness, ignoring the 35 TDs from 2007 the Spartans will lack with Devin Thomas, Jehuu Caulcrick and Kellen Davis all gone.
The Bears have Jahvid Best and a healthy starting quarterback as well as a defence fast enough to keep Javon Ringer in check. I like the Spartans, just not on Saturday.
Tennessee at UCLA, Monday, 8 p.m. ET: Under 47 points
The Bruins have a shite quarterback situation, but the school held onto DeWayne Walker to run the defence. I love this guy - wish he’d landed the top gig instead of Neuheisel. But whatever. The ‘D’ lost some star power but should prevent Jonathan Crompton from doing a Peyton Manning impression in his first appearance as the Vols’ unquestioned starter.
Tennessee should build a lead, then kill the clock on the ground as UCLA repeatedly fails to light up the Rose Bowl scoreboard. It should be the opposite of last year’s opener in Berkeley for Philip Fulmer.
Think you can do better than T-Roc? Beat him on these games and bug the shit out of him next week.
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